Saturday 24 May 2014

Sun Through the Door

I have finally managed to get a response for the Light and Shade Challenge.  I always used to find Trifecta a tough challenge, and it is proving just as tough at Light and Shade - and that is a good thing.  For me it is the writing equivalent of the gym.  

photo by sulaco229 at

I stay very quiet in my cool and shady safe place
I never want to step outside into a hot and dusty place
I ask for no disturbance as I hide inside my shadow place
But sun and life and warmth keep knocking at my enclosed place

Green and growing living things are creeping in the shuttered door
The sun is inching further in as it pushes against the wooden door
I hear the noise of birds that I have kept outside my painted door
But life and love and living are pushing past the broken door. 

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Washing the Cups

Here is my response to the Light and Shade Challenge based on the picture below.

Picture by Ayla87 on

"Did you see her, the one with the dress?" Angie asked as she splashed the dirty cups through the water at speed.
"Her with the dress and the handbag?" asked Betty.  She switched to a dry cloth for the next batch of cups.  They had been washing up together after the meetings for thirty four years this June and they had perfected the routine.
"No, the one with the dress and the handbag is Zoe.  She reckons that the handbag is designer and cost a fortune.  But you can't tell me that handbag is designer, I saw one just like it on the market." Angie sniffed.
"Well she said that he was doing alright and had got a bonus at Christmas.  I told her that everyone gets a bonus at Christmas but she wouldn't have it." Betty rattled the teacups into a stack and slotted them neatly into a cupboard.
"My Den said that he was doing well, but they aren't spending that much.  You should see the state of her sofa.  I'd be ashamed."
"You do like your furniture nice." Betty nodded.  "Of course, he could be spending some money on her at the corner, you know, just past Mrs Henderson.  She always has nice things."
"Her at the corner, she's the one with the dress.  She said that it was a charity shop find, but you can't fool me.  That dress cost a fortune, and her with her car in the garage."
"She spends her money on something.  There must be some money going into that house with them both working and I know they ask the lad to tip up now he's started at the call centre, but they still have that old car."
Angie nodded.  "My Jim said that it was a scandal that car, they've had it for four years now.  But I saw her in the supermarket and she had a bottle of wine in her basket." 
Betty nodded knowingly as she switched drying cloths again.  "Mind you, I heard that her aunt was the same, you know, the one who married the plumber and moved to Brighton."
"Is it her aunt that married the plumber?  Well that explains it."  There was a pause as Angie changed the washing up water.
"I see Mary's got new curtains." Betty rattled some more cups into the cupboard. "I would have thought she would have done something with her kitchen first.  I don't know how she cooks."
"Mary told me that she got them second hand.  You can't tell me that they are second hand, not with those seams.  And as for cooking, she buys frozen veg.  I pity her husband."
"Of course he makes up for it with the darts team.  They were out again last night.  Ted from two doors down came in at midnight."
"By the way, what was the talk today?" Angie rinsed out the washing up bowl.

"The dangers of gossip." Betty gathered her cloths for the wash.  "See you next week."

I have never, ever known a function where the washing up wasn't a chance for a full exchange of views.  I did 'hear' it in the local accent, but I am confident that the sentiments expressed are universal.  

Saturday 17 May 2014

The Faerie Wall

Here is another response to the Light and Shade Challenge.  The Queen Anne's Lace in the picture always makes me think of faeries.

Keep away from the wall, my child,
It keeps us from the faeries wild.
It keeps us from their faerie fear.
Keep away, my child, come here.

They blight the cows and cost us money
They steal the bees and take the honey
They spoil the butter in the churn
They cause the cakes and bread to burn

They steal our children, blight our wheat,
Ruin pigs and taint the meat.
Keep away from the wall, my dear,
Keep away, my child, come here.  

I have a very old fashioned view of faeries.   My grandmother was incredibly superstitious and, for example, would get genuinely very upset if she caught me putting my left shoe on first or stirring cake mixture the 'wrong' way.  This is very much her view of Faery, which was old fashioned even for her generation, but lots of fun as a story from a safe distance.   

Thursday 15 May 2014

The Castle

Another prompt from the Light and Shade Challenge and this time I was really stuck.  It is really good, though, to move out of the comfort zone, so I have gone for it.  

image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/

There is a castle on the hill
A king sat there in days of old
His knights were brave, his ladies fair
A pinnacle of brave and bold

Minstrels there were, and jesters sharp
Ministers with wisdom deep
Priests and monks in cloistered nooks
All knowledge gathered in his keep

There was a knight, a lady fair
A false man and a desperate fight
A riven kingdom, empty hope
A funeral byre and fading light

The story's old and patched with songs
On threads that wore out long ago
Who knows the truth of treasure there
Before the final overthrow

Young lads go there to try their hand
Digging the vaults and dusty hall
The tombs are empty, nothing's there
A bird's nest in a broken wall.

Some nights, when Venus sails the sky
And Mars is courting near the moon
They say that ghostly dancers whirl
To echoes of an ancient tune

Splendour and crowns have tumbled down
The painted walls have faded pale
And while we bustle round our lives
Dust slowly settles on the tale. 

I admit it, I used a rhyming dictionary, but I did have fun.  Thank you for reading.  

Saturday 10 May 2014


Here is my 100 word take on Friday's Light and Shade Challenge prompt.  It was great fun, but I really, really regret setting 100 word challenges.

"Is that the post?" Estelle called.  "I thought it had already been."
Phil shrugged and picked up the envelope.  "It's from the solicitors."
Estelle jumped up.  Her rich, spiteful uncle had promised he would leave Estelle £1000 in his will.  She had been waiting for months. 
'Your legacy valued at £1000 is with this letter, according to the exact instructions of our late client.' The letter read.  Estelle turned the page over and over.  There was nothing. 
"He always was a skinflint." She said bitterly.

Unheeded in the wastepaper bin the perfect Penny Black sat smugly on the envelope.

Monday 5 May 2014

Child in a Sweet Shop

Here is my take on the third Light and Shade Challenge.  I went at a happy tangent with the picture and I had so much fun.  Here is the picture that sparked the idea.  

Picture by ciscopa on

He looked carefully at his outfit.  He had to get the look exactly right, it could make all the difference between success and failure.  There was an all night screening of the Twilight films and he could not miss this opportunity.
 He was naturally pale but his blond hair was a problem.  The old fashioned top hat that he had picked up on the internet should cover it and give the right feel.  He had considered a cane but he hoped there would be times in the evening when he wanted both hands free.  There were likely to be a lot of young ladies at the screening.
The suit had been a problem.  He had found one eventually in a second hand shop.  The black suit jacket had velvet lapels and the waistcoat was nicely cut.  He had been meticulous to get rid of any faint trace of the iridescent dusting powder.  With the slightly flared trousers it said very clearly that this was a man who had not quite got the decade right. 
He had wondered about the shirt.  He may have wanted to look as if he couldn't keep up with fashion after all this time, but there was no way he was wearing 1970s drip dry polyester with a frill.  He had settled for a deep crimson silk shirt.  It was brand new, but silk was an old fashioned material and he could always say that he had ripped his favourite brushed nylon shirt in a fight with a werewolf.  With well polished shoes and a heavy, plain signet ring he should look the part.
He checked he had his ticket and plenty of cash.  He didn't want to break the look with a credit card and if he got lucky with a persuadable lady he didn't want to give too much information about himself, just in case.  The taxi outside sounded the horn.  
"Going to the screening?  You look just like a vampire, mate.  It makes a better night if you put a bit of effort in to look the part." The taxi driver sighed.  "I used to have a suit like that forty years ago.  Of course, I was a lot thinner then.  Well, you won't be lonely tonight, I bet you've got a hotel room booked."
He smiled enigmatically and gave the driver a generous tip.  Looking at the crowd there were others who had aimed for his intended look but he prided himself that he had hit closest to the mark.  He was already getting interested glances and he thought it would not take much to entice the pretty brunette near the popcorn stand to a secluded corner to 'talk'.

Carefully keeping his expression immobile, inside he was laughing wildly.  He may be seven hundred and thirty two years old and a vampire but looking at all those pliable, gullible necks made him feel like a child in a sweet shop.  

I've never really got into the Twilight series, but I can't help feel that vampires are not very nice.  This is my take on a baddie.

Saturday 3 May 2014

White Lies

Here is my response to the Light and Shade Challenge of 2nd May 2014.  It is a bit embarrassing that it comes so long after the responses from people who didn't actually help to set the challenge.  I took the inspiration from the quote:

'She tells enough white lies to ice a wedding cake'.  Margot Asquith

"Honestly, you look lovely in that, Claudia.  It really suits you, the colour is ideal.  You will look fine.  And the neckline is perfect, not too low."
Claudia looked doubtful.  "I don't want to show too much..."
"You will be fine!" Jenny smiled frantically and avoided the sympathetic glances of the bridal shop assistants.
"There's not too much beading?" Claudia smoothed down the expensive silk.

"It's perfect.  You will be stunning, honest." As her mother-in-law-to-be headed back to the changing rooms Jenny checked her watch.  She had twenty minutes left to choose her wedding dress.  

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